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Julie Chen reveals plastic surgery to look less Chinese

Updated: 2013-09-12T15:33:07Z

By LISA GUTIERREZ

The Kansas City Star

During a week when hosts of “The Talk” are revealing secrets, co-host Julie Chen’s revelation on Wednesday was particularly intriguing: When she was younger she had plastic surgery to change her Chinese features.

“It absorbed a lot of time and conversation and controversy in my family,” she told Glamour magazine about the decision.

Chen told “The Talk” audience that she was 25 and working as a local news reporter at WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, when the news director told her she would never sit on the anchor desk because of her heritage.

How big of an Asian community do we have in Dayton, the news director asked her?

Then he told her that because of her “heavy ... so small” Asian eyes, she looked uninterested and bored on camera.

“So, what am I supposed to say to my boss? I wanted to cry right then and there. It felt like a dagger in my heart, because all of my life I wanted to be a network anchor,” she said.

The incident reminded her of being teased about her heritage while growing up in Queens, N.Y., she said.

Meeting with agents, “this one big-time agent basically told me the same thing,” she said. “He said, 'I cannot represent you unless you get plastic surgery to make your eyes look better.’”

The agent told her: “You're good at what you do. And if you get this plastic surgery done, you're going straight to the top.”

The discussion of plastic surgery divided her family, she said, but eventually her parents said they would support her and even pay for the surgery.

“I have to live with every decision that I've made,” said Chen, who also hosts “Big Brother” on CBS. “And it got me to where we are today. And I'm not going to look back.”

To reach Lisa Gutierrez, call 816-234-4987 or send email to lgutierrez@kcstar.com.

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